Category Archives: Writing&Talking

October 28, 2013, 3:36 pm

FLIP THE MODEL: Strategies for Creating and Delivering Value (a pre-print)

I’ve been eager to share this one. It was wrapped up in August and I’ve been sitting on it since the semester started. I recently got the “OK” from Elsevier and just put the final visuals together this weekend. There are a number of interesting stories in here– I’ll leave it at that:

flip_icon“Academic libraries are encountering a critical inflection point. In our case it isn’t a single technology that is disrupting our established system, but a barrage of advancements in publishing, pedagogy, and user preferences. The landscape is shifting around us, and the future of scholarship requires us to develop new skills, design new environments, and deliver new service capacities. In short, we need new operating models.” Read the pre-print.

This is the draft version that I submitted to the editors. The final (authoritative) copy will be out in January 2014 in the Journal of Academic…

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July 9, 2013, 3:50 pm

MUSIC AND WRITING & MY HIP HOP IMAGINATION or: if my next paper is bad blame Jay Z

I’ve been reflecting on my writing process lately. I’ve noticed that when I’m working on an article or a conference talk that I seem to gravitate toward a particular artist or album to stimulate my thinking. It’s not intentional but there always seems to be a unique soundtrack for each piece.


When I was writing my book I listened to a lot of Thursday and Three 6 Mafia. When I was writing startup it was a blend of Postal Service and Lil Wayne. The R&D paper was pretty much all Amanda Palmer and Dresden Dolls. ACRL’s discovery paper was classic grunge like old Soundgarden and AIC. Yet while preparing for that presentation it was early Metallica with a shot of Kanye and ASAP


Now don’t get me wrong—I don’t limit myself to just these artists. On any given day it could be back-to-back Danzig and Dr Dre in order to spark ideas or new emotions that I want to capture…

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April 23, 2013, 3:37 pm

Hubs and Centers as a Transitional Strategy

We’re still in the early stages of reshaping the role of our library but I wanted to share a document that outlines some of our thinking. Julie Speer, Tyler Walters, and I co-wrote a paper for the International Association of Technological University Libraries (IATUL) Conference.


Here is a piece from the intro:

Libraries of science and technology universities worldwide are adapting to a changing environment where cyberinfrastructure, eResearch, and new technology-intensive approaches to teaching and learning are transforming the very nature of universities. While many have adopted new technologies and the resources and expertise to manage them, this is only an initial step. Libraries are experimenting with organizational models that will transform their work capacity and expertise. The goal of these libraries is being an entity that feeds and produces collaborative synergies…

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April 2, 2013, 2:56 pm

The Art of Problem Discovery (Invited Paper, ACRL 2013)


I was invited to present a paper at ACRL based upon my entrepreneurial writings. I decided to write about the pursuit of good problems, which has become a guiding philosophy in my work. I think it’s going to be a good talk. I’m having fun putting the content together and it addresses a different piece of the innovation discussion.


Friday, April 12, 1:30PM, Wabash 2-3, Indianapolis Convention Center


Here is the closing thought that sums it all up:

Our intention should never be to give people what they want. Rather, through the art of problem discovery, we can design and develop the capacities, service models, and solutions necessary to deliver what people need in order to accomplish the outcomes they desire.  (more)



December 10, 2012, 2:01 pm

A Paper for the Problem Seekers

I’m thrilled and honored to be have been selected as one of the Invited Papers for ACRL 2013. This isn’t something I applied for so the committee must read this blog. It would be easy to simply repackage startup or R&D and present a modified version of those papers—but what’s the fun in that? I’m planning to build off of the disruptive thinking theme and deliver something a little more compact.


I’m obsessed with J.W. Getzels right now and I want to honor his work. One of his core ideas went something like this:


There is a lot of information out there about how we solve problems, but very little related to how we discover, invent, pose, or formulate problems. From: “The Problem of the Problem”


The paper I’m writing is based on that. I’m calling it: The Art of Problem Discovery.


It’s due Feb 18 so not a lot of time. But that’s what…

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September 26, 2012, 2:43 pm

Too much assessment…

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter then you’ve heard me talk about the paper I was writing over the summer. It’s for ARL’s Assessment Conference and at one point it was over 14,000 words.


It was probably one of the most challenging things I’ve written because of time (3 months) and space (5,000 word max) limitations. The background reading was amazing; I skimmed 30 books and read nearly 50 articles, blog posts, and reports. I immersed myself into R&D culture. And sadly there was so much material I couldn’t use and even worse, so much material that I just didn’t have time to read.


I had two objectives with this paper:


  1. I wanted it to be a follow-up or sequel to Think Like a Startup. That paper resonated with a lot of people, so my working title was “operate like an R&D lab.” I took the section about assessment and gave it it’s own platform. I…

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July 23, 2012, 3:48 pm

Data-Driven Decision-Making vs. Discovery-Driven Planning (don’t measure a butterfly using the metrics of a caterpillar)

I’ve been thinking a lot about caterpillars lately. I read the Very Hungry Caterpillar to my son every night and it always makes me think of organizations going through transformative change.

What’s fascinating to me isn’t just the physical transformation that occurs. Obviously sprouting wings and becoming more colorful is amazing, but the internal composition changes too. Their appetites change. Their digestive systems change. But what really gets me is the perception-shifting that must occur. Imagine you’re stuck crawling on the ground and slowly climbing trees, flowers and bushes then suddenly you’re able to fly–to move nimbly. Imagine the cognitive transformation that first day when life is about exploring a much wider universe.

You think ARL will be ok with me citing a children’s book? I also want to pitch Willy Wonka as the role model for R&D. That’s for another …

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June 6, 2012, 4:04 pm

Hack the Learner Experience, or Get Yourself Some Pedagogical Perspective

Let’s keep this rolling for all the ubiquitous librarians out there. I want to post more but the tradeoff is that I need to write less. You know, only so much time in the day/night…

I mentioned back in January that Char Booth and I were working on a project together. That’s finally wrapped up and we packaged it all together:

Understanding the Learner Experience: Threshold Concepts and Curriculum Mapping


There is a paper along with links to a video of our presentation and some slides. I’ll let the content speak for itself, but I wanted to highlight a few things:


  • It was great working with Char. I tend to push things a bit far sometimes and she pushes ideas even further. Not only is she a good designer but is also skilled at the art of rhetoric too. Char and I are interested in working together again in late 2013 or 2014, so if someone has an interesting…

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January 11, 2012, 2:51 pm

The Rise of the Learner Experience Librarian

I’m excited to finally be collaborating with Char Booth. We’ve been seeking a project for several years now and finally found one in the form of an invited paper and co-presentation at CARL 2012.

This is our venture:

Understanding the Learner Experience: Threshold Concepts and Curriculum Mapping
In order to improve library instruction, we need to develop a richer understanding of the holistic learning and teaching experience of our institutions. Threshold concepts are core ideas in a particular area or discipline that, once understood, transform perceptions of that subject. Curriculum mapping is a method of visualizing insight into the courses, requirements, and progressions a learner negotiates as they pass through a particular department or degree. When understood and applied in tandem, these strategies provide a powerful means of developing actionable insight into the learner…

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October 31, 2011, 5:16 pm

Last Column for American Libraries (and other writing projects)

My last column for American Libraries is out. I pitched the column together with a book back in summer 2009. I remember drafting the email on my phone in an airport during a layover. I’m grateful that ALA took a chance on it.


The series was intended to run three years, but I felt it was hard to sustain after two. You can only profile so many “inspiring” libraries before it becomes mundane.  That’s sort of how I feel about Movers & Shakers but that’s more of a dinner conversation at ALA. I’ve very happy with the diversity of the libraries that I interviewed, but this was a good place to stop.


The book and column were intended to support each other, however, the book drifted in a different direction and hit all types of snags. The column has been fun, but it started to feel like a chore rather than an expression and so I knew I had to let it go. Before American …

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